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Google Assistant finally launches on Android TV, starting with the NVIDIA Shield

Google Assistant on Android TV
Google Assistant on Android TV (Image credit: Android Central)

Google has announced that Google Assistant is finally making its way to Android TVs, starting with the NVIDIA Shield Android TV. The AI platform seems to be available just about everywhere else in the home, but having Assistant on the biggest screen in your home is a great way to experience its power.

The feature set for Assistant on Android TV is the same as what was first teased back in January at CES — which is, it's basically what you've experienced on other platforms, plus a few TV-specific tweaks. You can ask general knowledge questions and have the answers displayed on screen, search YouTube, play music, ask for specific content in certain apps like Netflix or HBO, ask for photos from Google Photos, control smart home devices, get travel time information and so much more.

A few months later than expected, but it's great to see Assistant expand.

Basically, Assistant on your Android TV will be closer to the full-featured version that's offered on your phone, with the typical limitations of being a stationary device like you may be used to on Google Home. That's good to see considering how long we had to wait for it to arrive, and considering the high power of the Shield Android TV and a stable home internet connection it should be a great experience.

Though today's announcement talks about Assistant arriving on Android TVs as a whole, the first hardware to get the service will be the NVIDIA Shield Android TV. If you have one, you'll be able to grab a (rather large) update starting today. Google specifically notes that Sony's Android TV-powered Bravia TVs will get it "in the coming months" but makes no note of a time frame for other Android TV devices other than the previously known detail that it has to be running Marshmallow or later.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

30 Comments
  • Excellent news! Can't wait to try it out
  • Does this mean it will finally interact with my Google Home or my phone or do I have to push the mic button on my remote every time?
  • I know they should have the always listening function on the game controller, so your google home is essentially irrelevant in the living room. I'm sure they'll have an easy integration for other devices to interact with the shield though.
  • I'm not sure if always listening on the remotes is practical. I find myself plugging in my remote more often than I would expect. I'm actually not sure how often, it feels like every 3 or 4 days. Always listening seems like it would significantly decrease battery drain. A built in mic on the box itself seems like it would be more practical or even something like a USB mic to plug into it.
  • The only problem I can see with that is where your shield is located. My shield, along with others I'm assuming, is right next to the tv speakers which would lead to interference on the mic. What I'm going to do is have the game controller plugged in always near the couch end table, allowing it to be close and easy for it to hear you. The new shield remote, not the game controller, runs on non rechargable batteries so I'm sure that won't have the option of always listening.
  • You can choose to turn on always listening via the controller.
  • Yes, of course, the remote is equally powerful as a multi microphone Google Home. To be honest I hope it has better mics, because Google Home has problems detecting hot words so often... (yes, sarcasm)
  • Unfortunately, no. The Google Home still can't natively serve as a media controller for Android TV. On the Shield, you have to use the remote or game controller to activate the Google Assistant. Yeap, it's still Google. And they're still half-arsing everything.
  • Why would you want Assistant on your TV, AND on your speaker, AND on your phone? I feel like when you're watching TV, you're already going to be near your speaker if you have one, and of course your phone. Seems like overkill to have 3 assistants in one room at the same time, and that's assuming you don't have a tablet or a pixel book. Also if Home or Android TV aren't as capable of the phone's assistant, why would you buy home?
  • How does it work if you already have a Google home and shield in the living room ?
  • Guess I'll find out tonight! I really hope I can use my Google Home to control Netflix on my Shield TV now.
  • It should just behave like the Google Assistant on your phone today. Both will listen but only one will respond.
  • Exactly
  • Hopefully my forgotten Mi box will get this.
  • Will be interesting. Will be home in a couple of hours to test it out.
  • Updating right now. This took way too long lol.
  • The video suggests you can search Google photos but the response I get is "I can't search the web yet"
  • Updated my shield this morning, haven't played with it yet.
  • finally. It felt like eternity while waiting..;)
  • I assume it can do something as simple as turn your TV on and off? I don't watch cable or use a cable box so changing channels is not important but I do toggle between three inputs (Roku, Xbox and PC). Have the ability to switch devices by voice would be great.
  • While I don't own a shield or Android TV device that would be cool. I already do this using GH and IFFT with my Harmony hub and Chromecast. Having it all in one device would be better but it works fine with my current setup. I don't have a TV package/ internet only so no need for any TV features other than streaming from my Plex media server, Prime Video, or Netflix. Totally waiting for Plex to allow GH to be a controller so it can play straight from my Plex Media server to my Chromecast all controlled by the TV would be great :)
  • The way I have mine set up to HDMI ARC in the settings all I have to do is simply touch the green triangle on the remote and the shield will come on along with the TV and the 5.1 surround sound all at once. And of course once I power down everything will shut off just from The Shield controller cluding TV surround sound and of course the shield.
  • Google should one-up Amazon's Show and just make a TV. :)
  • A little off topic. Update went fine. Also got a controller update from 1 to 1.6 This would not complete and froze up the controller. Had to install the Android TV remote app on my phone. Finally, charged up the remote a little. Forgot and re-paired and it took the update. Pretty irratating.
  • I was wondering about the controllers update I didn't know if that happened automatically in the background or if that was something you had to initiate
  • Upon double-checking it either took with the update or it did it in the background I never had to reuse pair my connection for search for the update for the controllers it just happened
  • It's still half-baked. Can't even tell me the weather.. Smh..
  • I'm in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I got it last night and have been playing with it a bit. It has had no problem providing me correct weather information. No problem with Google search yet. I was able to pull up the play store, find and install apps. It's nice to finally use voice to interact with Netflix. Multiple profiles and age restricted PIN settings will stop you in their tracks when they kick in. You also can't pull up specific episodes.
    Having a Google home in the same room as your Shield TV is not necessarily redundant. I haven't got my Shield to wake up from my voice, however, and I can have my Home send a youtube clip to wake it up, and then talk directly to the Shield. The Shield and Home will also determine the better device to answer your question. It also minimizes the change of competing sounds keeping Assistant from hearing you.
    As far as I can tell, continuous conversation is not activated at this time.
    The Nvidia spot is going to help expand the Shields presence as well, giving you a mic everywhere you can plug it in.
  • Updated mine yesterday, after the update the shield defaulted to Russian on my keyboard! When I use my controller and give a command all that happens is a search result in YouTube! Seems to default to YouTube, anyone know where the Home settings are?
  • I knew this would come, now even spy on your Tv. If I get a new TV, It will never be connected to the net